'As we rebuild in the shadow of the pandemic, the government must prioritise young people'
More than half of new graduates and school leavers fear Covid-19 has “stolen” their futures.
Two-thirds of 16 to 24-year-olds – or those defined as Generation Z – feel like they will pay the economic price for coronavirus due to severely damaged job prospects, a report from the charitable trust, Hope not Hate has found.
Leaving school and university to find a full-time job for the first time creates enough worry and anxiety in itself. Adding the coronavirus crisis, which has seen many people lose their jobs, into the mix is only likely to worsen these concerns.
Among new graduates, who are usually either unemployed or in low-paid jobs, 64 % of these young people feel anxious about their professional futures.
The report says: “In the first stages of adulthood, many are feeling that the pandemic has stolen their future.”
Evidence is that the pandemic has already had a negative impact on young people in these groups, with 18% of those living in house shares saying they have struggled to pay rent.
Of those in house shares, 26% have also had to use some of their savings and 24% have been furloughed due to the coronavirus crisis.
Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Young People, commenting on the recent HOPE not Hate report, said: “This report reveals the daunting reality facing today’s young people. The devastating fallout of Covid-19 has not only caused widespread anxiety about financial insecurity and future job prospects, but also damaged young people’s wellbeing and their ability to feel valued in society.
“HOPE not Hate have highlighted the importance of putting young people at the heart of any post-Covid recovery plan.
“The Prime Minister has so far refused to directly engage with young people at any stage of this crisis. He must answer the calls of young people to have a stake in deciding their own futures.”
Author of the Hope not Hate report Rosie Carter said: “As we rebuild in the shadow of the pandemic, the government must prioritise young people – but without treating them as a single entity.
“The under-25s are a hugely diverse group and they will both experience and respond to these challenges differently.
“Whilst comfortable graduates might face more initial difficulties getting a foot on the white-collar ladder, they won’t be in the same situation as those from low-income backgrounds who were facing a real lack of opportunities even before coronavirus hit.
“Intergenerational fairness means recognising the necessary sacrifices made by the young during this pandemic and supporting measures that push them to the front of the queue.”
One issue the report really delves into is the concern that Covid-19 has worsened the generational divide.
Research by the Nuffield Foundation found that young people in the 16-24 category were one and a half as times more likely to have no garden for some relief during the lockdown.
Those in the 16-24 age group were also locked down with, on average, about half the floor space that older people had.
Many more young people could be facing short-term unemployment and consequently long-term damage to their job prospects and pay because of the pandemic.
Hope not Hate’s report, ‘Young People in the time of Covid-19’ comes out later this week.
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